Assam’s resource crisis seeks national intervention.
Guwhati/ 20th July’2017 (Prag News Desk): Assam at the moment is facing resources crunch thus Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal sought the intervention of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He urged the finance minister for releasing the Central share of Rs 1,138 crore under the Flood Management Programme (FMP) during the 11th and 12th five-year plans.
CM Sonowal met the Finance Minister at his Parliament House office and submitted a memorandum listing out the State’s demands. He was accompanied by the BJP MPs of the State, Sonowal had called on the Prime Minister seeking a special package to strengthen the State’s 5,000-km network of embankments.
The Prime Minister instructed DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh to look into the demands and a meeting was held at Assam Bhavan here where the State government officials and MPs had a discussion with the Central officials led by Dr Singh.
Sonowal requested Jaitley to help the State by all possible means to tackle the unprecedented and unusually long wave of floods this year. The Chief Minister informed the Union Finance Minister that the State has already released its share against 141 schemes under the FMP.
The Finance Minister had extended support during GST implementation in Assam thus Sonowal urged Jaitley not to restrict the refund of CGST and IGST incentives to industries to 58 per cent.
He asked the finance minister to continue with the earlier policy of 100 per cent duties during the last three years of the 14th Finance Commission Award and under the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007.
Sonowal further urged the Finance Minister to take initiative for formulation of a new industrial policy on the lines of NEIIPP, 2007 to keep the flow of investments to Assam and the Northeast as a whole. More than Rs 6,500 crore have poured into the State during the first 11 months of the present dispensation under the NEIIPP, 2007, Jaitley was informed.
Lauding the Finance Minister for his initiatives paving the way for clearance of two externally aided projects, including the Citizen Centric Services Delivery Project and Public Finance Reforms Project, Sonowal moved Jaitley for funding of the proposed Rs 1,400-crore bridge connecting North Guwahati and Guwahati through the New Development Bank (formerly BRICS Development Bank). The Government of Assam has already submitted a proposal for the bridge to the New Development Bank. The Chief Minister also apprised the Finance Minister about the ongoing negotiations with the World Bank for funding of USD 300 million Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project.
Appreciating the Finance Minister’s role in resolving the oil royalty issue by paving the way for clearance of the first instalment amounting Rs 948 crore in 2016-17, Sonowal requested Jaitley for immediate release of Rs 2,844-crore oil royalty arrear from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas according to the agreement with the Government of Assam during the current financial year.
Under the 14th Finance Commission Award to urban local bodies, Sonowal requested the Finance Minister to expedite the release of Rs 324 crore. The Chief Minister also urged the Finance Minister to prevail upon NABARD to enhance the normative allocation to Assam under RIDF to Rs 1,500 crore during the current financial year.
The NABARD has indicated an allocation of Rs 800 crore only.
The Chief Minister also briefed the Finance Minister how his government had laid emphasis on ensuring utilization of RIDF funds to the tune of Rs 850 crore in 2016-17, which have had never crossed more than Rs 450 crore annually till 2015-16, besides, CM Sonowal also seeked Finance Minister’s intervention for revival of Hindustan Paper Corporation’s two paper mills at Jagiroad and Panchgram.